Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yes, keep laughing I did

Rakesh Rohan's Karan Arjun was (along with the no-budget slasher film Mardi Gras Massacre) one of the first movies that I had to stop dead to blog about in mid-watch -- so bursting was I to share the absurdity with the world. Koyla lived up to its predecessor, so I've already posted about the film's key elements: mute-with-a-mullet, ventriloquism, and cannabis. If you're not already thinking "I must see this! Now!" then it's probably not for you.

And that's a good thing to know, because Koyla is definitely not for everybody. The violence is surprisingly bloody, and the whole storyline is unsavory, with poor Madhuri in constant danger of rape, and eventually thrown into a brothel. (Like his character in Dance Dance, this is one of Amrish Puri's pervy bad guys).

When I first heard about this movie, and how Amrish (a.k.a. Raja Sahib) raises mute Shankar (a.k.a. Shah Rukh) like a dog, I had two immediate thoughts: that sounds kind of like the Jet Li action picture, Unleashed! (Although for once, Koyla came out much earlier). Also: a mute Shah Rukh? Who still sings? This notion added a new layer of wonderfulness to the life-changing experience that was "Dard-e-Disco," and had me seriously hoping for a moment of "Idiot! Dream sequence! SRK can do anything!"

Oddly, the problem of picturizing songs on a mute character was handled much more realistically than I thought it would (or could) be. And who would have expected that in a film where the hero's muteness is eventually cured by getting his throat slit? (Probably not a recommended medical treatment). Or where he strolls coolly after the bad guy, despite the fact that he's on fire?

The first song is a fantasy by Madhuri, who's seen a photo of Shah Rukh and doesn't know he's mute. The second is an adorable sequence (seen here) in which he appears to sing, but it's all the result of Johnny Lever's ventiloquism. The third is a duet with Madhuri; when it's Shah Rukh's turn, he mimes his response, while the voiceover sings behind him.
Depite all its bizarre elements, the storyline is pretty simple. The dissipated Raja Sahib tricks Madhuri into thinking she's marrying his slave boy. I don't know when they spirited Shah Khan off to Glamour Shots, but that picture looks like a glossy he'd send out looking for modeling gigs, rather than the portrait of a guy who runs through the mud with a pack of dogs. Anyway, she's horrified to awake from a swoon and find herself married to a creepy old fellow instead. Various acts of violence and domestic angst reveal the Raja's true nature to his formerly most loyal "pet," who ultimately faces off in an intense Eyeball Duel with his master:


Eventually the truth comes out about who killed Shankar's parents and muted him with hot coals, setting him on a quest to not only rescue the heroine, but also gain gruesome revenge on the way. It's kind of like The Crow, actually, only with a pretty girl looking on approvingly.

(As a point of historical fact, we have my first-ever screenshot! FINALLY! Fittingly, a close-up of the Amrish Crazy Eye).

Koyla is not the kind of film that normal people would call "delightful" (Or, well, maybe it is. Normality is not my forte). But that's the word that keeps coming to mind. I guess in the Sandman comics, the character who had exemplified Delight later turned into Delirium, and that's exactly the kind of movie this is!


Anarchivist said...

I have no idea where the white bands on the screenshots came from, but I'll deal with that later. Hopefully there won't be the need for screaming vengeance against Blogger.

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

That sounds like an absolutely perfect movie experience to me.

memsaab said...

Well I LOVE Koyla too, but I was madly crushing on SRK when I watched it (Madhuri too).

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

I haven't even read yet - I hopped over as soon as I saw the link on facebook - but HURRAH FOR SCREENSHOTS AND HURRAH FOR CRAZY. KRAZZY4, even.

Anarchivist said...

Dear Houseinrlyeh: I think it's up your alley!

Dear Beth: You, not so much. But I'm glad you appreciate my screenshotting. I feel slightly like a traitor to text, but in the case of Crazy Eyeballs, a picture IS worth 1000 words.

Dear Memsaab: I popped over and read PPCC's review of Koyla, and the description of SRK as "the hunky stable boy" cracked me up no end. Your response is perfectly understandable!